Friday, November 5, 2010

Are you Pregnant?

Andrew D Atkin:

Did you know that most children born (truly) non-traumatically turn out to be ambidextrous? And you thought having a hand dominance was normal! Well, it is normal. But being altered by a problematic birth is normal too, and of course that's probably not the kind of normal you want to be part of, insofar as you can help it.

Read on to learn how you can have the most 'normal' birth possible.


Birth is a highly vulnerable time for a baby. It's a time when imperfections in delivery can (and will) have a severe or even profound long-term impact on the baby, due to traumatic imprinting. [See my Understanding Mental Sickness to learn about trauma-imprinting].

Birth in itself is not traumatic for a baby, but it so easily can be traumatic as things can too easily go wrong. Most of us have in fact received significant damage from a less-than-ideal birth, and the personal costs are more serious than we can realise.

Several years ago I gave the following recommendation to a pregnant friend of mine, to help optimise her birth. She had an excellent birth (about 3.5 hours in labour + no complications) and she was very happy with it.

Here was the formula:

1. Dim lights in the delivery room.

A baby's senses are 'tuned' differently to an adults so they can't moderate input like we can. They can be traumatised by "normal" input. [Refer to Frederick Leboyer's classic: "Birth without Violence"]

2. Keep the room quiet.

3. Warm room.

4. No drugs (unless you come to desperately need them).

The birthing process is governed by all kinds of hormones and chemical processes, switching important biological functions on and off. Because of this, drugs can directly interfere with the birthing process, and directly interfere with the baby's physiology as well.

A drugged baby's body cannot respond properly just as a drugged mothers can't. Reducing a baby's ability to adapt will only increase their exposure to damage. (Not to mention that the drugs are damaging in their own right). A relaxed, non drugged-up mother/baby is going to be less likely to need forceps and the like.

5. Natural delivery (no elective C-section).

A baby needs to be stimulated by contractions before coming into the world. Traumatic-imprinting from "canal deprivation" can lead to an [unnaturally] passive and phlegmatic personality.

Also, vaginal mucus is forced into a baby's stomach during natural birthing, which is apparently important for the development of the baby's immune system - a bit like breast feeding.

6. Get comfortable. (The doctors first take orders from you - not the other way around).

My friend told her doctors how she wanted her birth to be, and she said to them: "I don't want to be swearing at anyone (if they didn't do things her way) during my birth".

A bit of "I-will-make-life-difficult-for-you" can go a long way? As a precaution, I would probably make the same kind of statements myself. You don't want a doctor pulling the plug on your authority at the last minute.

7. Do not cut the umbilical cord until the baby is independently breathing.

Common sense?

8. The baby is to be handed over to (and put on) the mother immediately after birthing.

The ultimate social trauma = Remove a baby from its mother immediately after birth.

(This is like me opening up a hole into another universe and then throwing you into it).

9. The baby is to stay with the mother after birthing, for several hours at least.

It is a fact that complex attachments between mother and baby develop during this critical time, like they do for other mammals as well.

10. Maintain a calm and comfortable environment.

A newborn baby is no "protoplasm". This is when/where they need sensitive care more than ever.

11. Do not circumcise your baby boy unless it really must be done. And if you do, use an anaesthetic.

Unnecessary circumcision (...and pre-1980 in New Zealand it was conducted without anaesthetic) was/is a truly stupid and barbaric process. Babies would go blue, pass out, and in some cases even die from the pain.

...Did you know: When babies are born non-traumatically they do not scream or cry immediately after their delivery. Yes, that rasping cry from the newborn baby is not normal.

Addition: 14-8-13: The following is Penn and Teller's anti-circumcision episode. It's difficult to watch, but important nonetheless. This practice is first-order child abuse. Why is it still legal?


Many people prefer home-birthing because they want to avoid the clinical setting and have a more natural birth. Good on them, but I don't see why home-birthing needs to be at home as such. Why not create a homely setting directly backed-up with medical facilities (on standby) should it come to be that you need them? Why not have the best of both worlds? This is what my friend did, and her delivery was excellent.

My central point to the pregnant (or one-day pregnant) reader is that you have nothing to lose by taking direct control of your birth and ensuring that it goes your way, which should (hopefully) be a natural way. The result can be a child with significantly less 'primary' emotional damage than what's common within in our society today, which is good not only for the child but the parents of course. Indeed; a happy, lively baby that is not irritable and 'difficult' is going to get the best of what their parents can give them, so the advantages compound. A really good start means a lot.


Pre-birth note:

Babies are incredibly sensitive to the status of their mother while in the womb. We now know that how a mother feels (and what she consumes) directly impacts her baby on the epigenetic level. This means that the status of the mother actually controls what genes are and are not finally manifest in the baby. There may be (and probably are) powerful womb-time trauma-imprints as well.

Regardless, research has shown that it is beyond argument that the status of the mother/womb is all-important for a child to avoid long-term developmental, behavioural and health problems later in life.

It is so important for a mother to keep away from drugs and a bad diet during this time, and important that she does what she can to avoid stress and be happy. A pregnant woman should never underestimate the importance of how she feels - her baby's physiology is literally dependant on it.

Post-birth note:

The younger your baby is, the more vital your job is. Everything I said in the pre-birth note also applies post-birth, though to a less profound degree.

A mother should do her best to keep well, both mentally and physically, for the first year of her baby's life especially. Other priorities such as buying a house or being financially independent etc. should be strictly secondary during this critical time, in my view.

I also believe that children should stay at home with their mothers (no outsourcing to a daycare centre) at least up until the age of about 6.


Addition: 08-05-14:

I don't know what the statistics are on rates of birth complications (I will try to find them later on) but I notice all the young girls at my work are having major birthing complications, and to a point where I would guess it's as common as 80% or higher. Honestly it's starting to seem like all their births are a mess.

Where do these complications come from? Suggestions. Drugs are a huge factor. They completely 'ram' the birthing process, as I commented earlier. They lay the foundation for creating the very problems that the medical industry exists to solve.

Another factor is just not doing what comes natural for you, and religiously conforming to the dictates of the obstetrician. Remember that your doctor is scared of being sued. If he does anything "outside the box" or even personally recommends anything outside the box, then he takes the risk that if anything goes wrong then he might be liable...because it happened on his recommendation. So your doctor may not tell you what he really believes.

Can you relate to this? I myself, in my own work, often don't do things that I think would be best and for no other reason than if something happened to go wrong, and I'm not following the book, then I might be liable. No thanks. I would rather just do things the stupid way, whether it makes a mess of things or not, because then I'm protected no matter the outcome - the disasters become my bosses problem, not mine. You want to think about that. It's up to you, women, to take control of your birth. You live in a world where everyone's first priority is to cover their own butts, and again you need to keep that in mind. Seek out advice that is not inhibited or "contaminated" and make your decisions from there.


  1. Your approach seems to be predicated on the belief that that the current OB system misaligned and that it should provide the prefect birth environment. But a hospital is a place to go where things go wrong. As such, the system is designed for the doctors to provide them with an environment suitable for saving the lives of both mother and child.

    Speaking only for the US, the reason why hospitals grew into the preferred place for delivery in the country was due to the high number of deaths of both mothers and children in labor during the early 20th century.

    This is not in critique of your suggestions, in fact many of them are practiced by midwives for at home births today. But to suggest that the burden of ideal child delivery is the doctors/hospitals is a transference of responsibility from the mother.

  2. vandiver49,

    I don't see the doctors/hospitals so much as having a responsibility, but just providing a service. But they do have a responsibility to manage complications should they occur because that's their job (if they've been assigned to it), of course.

    But yes, ultimately it's the mother responsibility to take control and direction of her birth, I believe.

    ...And sure, it's the risk of complications which is why I suggest a mother try to avoid a home-birth and instead have a "homely" hospital-based birth. Again it's a just a suggestion that I think is ideal.

  3. "But to suggest that the burden of ideal child delivery is the doctors/hospitals is a transference of responsibility from the mother."

    I agree with vandiver49. Problem is, doctors often choose to take responsibility in an arrogant way. It is the mother's responsibility to feel her own body and find the most comfortable position to give birth. Too often, the doctors will ignore her complaints, and instruct her on how to breathe, when to push, and they will even move her body into a position that is most comfortable for the midwife.
    There is quite a big cultural problem in the western world's medical industry. Everybody believes the "doctor knows best". As the western, and other parts of the world become increasingly institutionalised, we tend to follow the rules instead of our feelings.
    Speaking in general terms, psychological and medical research has now reached a point where it has become harmful....not helpful.
    I applaud the research on cancer treatment, stem cells and we've made some big leaps in neurological research.
    But looking at the bigger picture, we are damaging newborns with unnecessary C-sections, unnecessary isolation from mother, and an institutionalised denial of the effects that drugs and rough handling have on the baby.

    We need to find a more sensible balance between the hospitals, the courts, and humanity.

    Dr. Janov is one of the world's leading psychologists and an expert on prenatal and postnatal trauma. His advice is largely ignored despite the evidence provided by him and many other scientists. Cultural and social hindrances are having an enormous impact on the spread of information.

  4. Richard: The simple fact that it was only 30 years ago that (some) medical professionals decided it was best to at least use anaesthetics, before cutting off the end of babies penises, shows us that a Ph.D doesn't make someone an 'authority' on its own.

    Culture is potent - and so can be the medical blindness to those human realities that don't (necessarily) show up on our current "physiograms".

  5. I really liked this article. Janov also recommended a sitting or squatting position for the mother to give birth as it uses gravity to pull the baby down rather than the baby being pushed up toward the opening. It was done this way in ancient times with the aid of birthing stools. There have been interesting experiments with birthing tubs.

    I’d like to use your article. Maybe you could add in the squatting position?

    I have heard statistics that say hospitals have more problems than home births. For sure, C sections were done for profit, not need. Medics and doctors want us to think we can not do anything without them. It’s a lie. We would do better without them.

    My mother said when she was giving birth, they strapped her legs in/down so she could not move. She was not warned. They also cut her vagina open a little. They are often cold and uncaring as well. No wonder women have post-partum depression.

    You’d be surprised what real statistics say about hospital mistakes and disease. You are far better handling your own medical care as much as possible. Experienced Midwives are a very good choice if your state or country allows it. Many here do not. Hmmm, a medical lobby perhaps?

    Also, till a better book is out, The is Janov’s “Imprints” book, maybe his 5th at the time, around 1990, maybe. Amazon sells it used. I got a copy, of course. Great conversation here tween your bother, you, and others. Love it!